Al Qaisumah — A power performance by Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings saw the South Africans post the second-fastest time on Stage 3 of the 2022 Dakar Rally.
The Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ crew are still in 38th position overall, after losing more than three hours in Stage 1B, but their pace today proved that the pair is a force to be reckoned with, despite a challenging third stage.
The stage was shortened to 255km due to localised flooding on the first part of the timed section, forcing the organisers to start the stage at Control Point 1 (CP1). This meant a long liaison of 214km prior to the start, followed by a tricky stage with many dunes before another liaison of 166km that brought the crews back to the bivouac at Al Qaisumah.
Henk and Brett drove a perfect stage, and came through puncture-free. They pushed their own limits in the early parts of the stage, but reigned in the pace somewhat towards the finish, not taking any chances. Their tenacity saw them arrive at the finish just 38sec behind the stage winners, and while they remain in 38th position, they are quickly closing in on the crews ahead of them. They’ll be the second car into Stage 4 — the longest of the rally — which is sure to test them once again.
“It was a really nice stage for us today,” said Henk Lategan after the day’s racing. “Especially the beginning of the timed section offered super nice, smooth and flowing at high speed. So, I was really enjoying myself in the first part of the stage, feeling comfortable and confident.
“I might have extended myself a bit early on, but I pulled it back a bit towards the end as we got to some very tricky dunes. I just didn’t feel confident enough to push over that section, like the more experienced guys do,” Lategan continued.
“We decided to bring the car home safely, and we’ll try again tomorrow. From what I hear it will be a very long and tricky day, especially with our starting position as the second car on the road.”
Rally leaders, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel, recorded the 8th-fastest time on Stage 3, surrendering 5min 10sec to the stage winners. However, they gained time over their nearest rivals in the overall standings and increased their lead to 37min 40sec. They’ll be the well-position to attack on Stage 4, thanks to their road position as the 8th car into the stage.
Stage 3 was also a good one for Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy. The pair brought the Hilux home 4min 10sec behind the stage winners. This was good enough for 7th place on the day, and while they remain in 4th place overall, they are now within three minutes of the crew ahead of them.
Shameer Variawa and Danie Stassen recorded a steady performance on Stage 3, after their disappointment on the previous stage, where they struggled with a loss of power after a sensor change. They posted the 19th-best time of the day, despite starting well down the order, where traffic was an issue. The pair carved their way through the field, ending 15min 18sec behind the stage winners. As a result, they’ll start Stage 4 much higher up the order, with a two-minute dust gap, giving them the opportunity to further consolidate their position in the race. They are in 25th place overall after the first three stages, 2hr 16min 22sec adrift of the lead.
At 707km in total, Stage 4 will be the longest of Dakar 2022, and will see the rally move from the bivouac at Al Qaisumah to the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh. A timed section of 465 km will be combined with liaisons of 242km, and the terrain is expected to be more hard pack than dunes. Two looped stages follow, with the rally reaching its mid-point on Saturday, January 8th.
Stage 3 Results:
1. Sainz (ESP) / Cruz (ESP) Team Audi Sport 2hr 26min 51sec
2. Lategan (ZAF) / Cummings (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +38sec
3. Peterhansel (FRA) / Boulanger (FRA) Team Audi Sport +1min 41sec
4. Roma (ESP) / Bravo (ESP) BRX Prodrive Hunter +2min 41sec
5. Ekstrom (SWE) / Bergkvist (SWE) Team Audi Sport +2min 59sec
7. De Villiers (ZAF) / Murphy (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +4min 10sec
8. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (AND) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +5min 10sec
19. Variawa (ZAF) / Stassen (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +15min 18sec
Rankings after Stage 3:
1. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (AND) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux 9hr 31min 22sec
2. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) BRX Prodrive Hunter +37min 40sec
3. Alvarez (ARG) / Monleon (ESP) Benzina Orlen Toyota Hilux +42min 06sec
4. De Villiers (ZAF) / Murphy (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +45min 22sec
5. Al Rajhi (SAU) / Orr (GBR) Overdrive Toyota +47min 29sec
25. Variawa (ZAF) / Stassen (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +2hr 16min 22sec
38. Lategan (ZAF) / Cummings (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +3hr 26min 06sec